September 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C…. Major technology trade associations representing companies headquartered in 24 countries are urging swift and ambitious expansion of one of the most commercially successful trade agreements in the World Trade Organization – the Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

“The ITA has helped to drive innovation, accelerate productivity, increase employment, lower consumer prices, and bridge communities across the globe in ways unimagined 15 years ago,” the groups said in a unified statement, released Monday.  “This initiative would improve market access for information and communications technology (ICT) products around the world and make the newest technologies more affordable and available to everyone."

The statement is backed by a coalition of 56 associations from around the world that represent every aspect of this highly innovative sector, from hardware to software to services.  The statement comes as the latest round of ITA expansion talks open this week in Geneva, Switzerland.

The case for product expansion, the coalition stresses, is clear.

“More than 15 years have passed since the ITA was born and not a single product has been added to it even though the ICT sector is bursting with innovation and growth.  We therefore call on the ITA members to build on the current momentum, aim high for an ambitious, meaningful outcome, and complete their negotiations to expand this critically important agreement within a year.  We continue to be deeply committed to working closely with our governments to achieve a swift and ambitious outcome that will expand trade, stimulate growth, increase jobs, spur innovation, and promote prosperity around the world,” the joint statement explained.

The full statement, with a list of signatories, is available online (Global High-Tech Industry Calls for Swift and Ambitious Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement).

A report earlier this year by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation noted the ITA has grown to more than 70 signatories and has had a significant impact on expanding trade and economic opportunity.  The foundation reported that, from 1996 to 2008, total global trade in ICT products increased more than 10 percent annually, from $1.2 trillion to $4.0 trillion.  An expanded ITA would cover additional two-way global trade to the tune of $800 billion annually and increase world GDP by $190 billion.

“The global economy continues to struggle to regain its footing from the recession.  Job growth and economic certainly have been slow to recover.  The elimination of tariffs on wide array of additional tech products through an expanded ITA would give a major boost to the global economy,” said John Neuffer, vice president for global policy for the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI).  “An expanded ITA would mean increased trade among nations, more jobs around the world, and more product choices for consumers.  The original ITA, when it was signed in 1996, helped to spark an escalation in global innovation.  Now, we have the opportunity to build on that tremendous success by expanding the products covered by the ITA and opening new markets to these products.”

The leaders of APEC’s 21 nations have also united around support for an expanded ITA, as have business leaders from the G20.  In May, the WTO held an ITA symposium in Geneva to mark the agreement’s 15th anniversary and chart a course toward expansion.  Shortly thereafter, negotiators began to convene talks to advance the initiative.  That work is continuing this week in Geneva with technical discussions on an initial product list to be considered for inclusion in the ITA that has been developed by ITA members over the past several months.

ITI media contact:  Meghan Fletcher, mfletcher@itic.org, +1 202 445 9252.

About ITI

The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) is the premier advocacy and policy organization for the world’s leading innovation companies.  ITI navigates the constantly changing relationships between policymakers, companies, and non-governmental organizations, providing creative solutions that advance the development and use of technology around the world.  We develop first-rate advocacy strategies and market-specific approaches.  And we deliver results.  Visit itic.org to learn more.